ED. NOTE: “Man of Steel” ($125-million opening) dominated the box office over the weekend, setting a June record in its domestic debut. Amid the wide disparity between many film critics and fanboy audiences, Comic Riffs asked contributor David Betancourt to provide “A Fanboy’s Review.”
AFTER SEEING “Man of Steel” twice last week — at a press screening and then a midnight screening — I began to detect how strong the dividing line was, for the most part, between two groups: the media and the fanboys.
I’m no film critic, and people don’t follow how I point my thumb. What I am is a comic-book fanboy of more than 25 years. And for me, the new “Man of Steel” is the Superman movie I’ve always wanted to see, but never thought I would.
I stayed away from any reviews until I saw the movie. Once I did see it, I headed to major media publications and my favorite fan sites to check the temperature, review-wise. The verdict: It was as though the groups saw two completely different movies.
[‘MAN OF STEEL’: Superman sets June record with $125-million opening]
The outlook of many fanboys like myself is: Much of the media doesn’t seem to get “Man of Steel.”
Apparently I missed the memo that says Marvel Studios has the only successful template for making a superhero movie: Create popcorn entertainment that isn’t too serious. The formula has worked marvelously — and very profitably — for Marvel. But as fanboys know, Superman is DC Comics and Warner Bros., and they do things differently. And when DC Entertainment tried to be Marvel on film, we were given “Green Lantern” — which was a huge letdown for most comic-book fans (excepting Mark Strong’s fine performance as Sinestro).
There also seems to be some critics who can’t let go of Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner. Hey, you want to see a tribute to Donner? Go watch “Superman Returns” — a movie that made no attempt to define a Superman for a new generation, insteading holding on to the past with a Reeve look-alike (in Brandon Routh) who barely threw a punch.
So what are the fanboys saying about “Man of Steel”? Well, it’s scoring on such sites as Batman-on-film.com (which gave the film an “A”) and Modern Myth Media.
Myself? I’m siding with the fanboys.
Henry Cavill is Superman. He is utterly convincing as the Man of Steel.
Michael Shannon as Zod? Heath Ledger will always be the gold standard for comic-book movie villains, but Shannon’s Zod is memorable and intimidating. There is a method to Zod’s madness. He
fights for the survival of his people no matter the cost. Is Zod ruthless? No. He’s just a general looking to complete his mission. And for ruthless, look no farther than Zod’s right-hand woman, Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), who at times throws Superman around like a rag doll (and boy, is that fun to watch).
We get an extended look at Krypton and the family of El. We get to watch Clark Kent’s journey as he discovers who he is and who he’s meant to be as well, and we bask in his small-town Kansas roots. The film deftly depicts the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), who provide the care needed to make someone so powerful so compassionate.
As Lois Lane, Amy Adams falls in the air a few (too many) times, but she’s helpful to Superman when he really needs it.
All backed by a strong Hans Zimmer score.
Then there’s the action. I’m not a spoiler to say it comes down to Superman vs. Zod. The battle is comic-book heaven writ large and loud.
Do I eagerly await a sequel? Yes.
Is Cavill the man I want leading the Justice League? No doubt.
Did the combination of Zack Snyder’s vision, David Goyer’s words and Christopher Nolan’s guidance give me the Superman movie I wanted? Absolutely.
Do critical response bother me? Maybe. Many fanboys will never admit it, but deep down, many of us want the critics to like superhero movies as much as we do. It justifies our devotion.
Then again, I didn’t go into “Man of Steel” expecting it to be “The Winter’s Bone.” I wanted a Superman that had to clench his fist against an equally strong foe. Just like in the comics. And that’s what I got.
Is “Man of Steel” perfect? No.
Is it better than “The Dark Knight”? No, but really: What is? “
“Man of Steel” is the Superman that film fanboys deserve.